Do as others do

By Paulo Coelho

Abbot Pastor was out walking with a monk from Sceta when they were invited to a meal. The owner of the house, honoured by the monks’ presence, ordered that only the very best of everything should be served.
 
However, the monk was in the middle of a period of fasting, and when the food arrived, he took a pea and chewed it very slowly. He ate only that one pea during the whole of supper.
 
On the way out, the Abbot called him over:
 
‘Brother, when you go to visit someone, do not make an insult of your sanctity. The next time you are fasting simply decline any invitations to supper.’
 
The monk understood what the Abbot meant. From then on, whenever he was with other people, he did as they did.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

I’m dying of hunger

By Paulo Coelho

The traveller arrived at the monastery in the middle of a snowstorm.
 
‘I’m dying of cold and hunger and have no way of earning my livelihood, but I need to eat.’
 
It so happened that, on that very day, the storm had prevented the monks from restocking the pantry, and they had absolutely nothing to eat or drink. Touched by the man’s plight, the Abbot opened the tabernacle and removed from it the consecrated hosts and the chalice of wine and offered them to the man to eat.
 
The other monks were horrified.
 
‘That’s sacrilege!’
 
‘Why?’ replied the Abbot. ‘You have heard how David ate the bread from the tabernacle when he was hungry, and, when necessary, Christ healed people on the Sabbath. I am merely putting the spirit of Jesus into action: love and mercy can now do their work.’

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Stay in the desert

By Paulo Coelho

‘Why do you live in the desert?’ asked the gentleman.
 
‘Because I cannot be what I want to be.’
 
‘No one can, but we all have to try,’ said the gentleman.
 
‘It’s impossible. When I start to be myself, people treat me with false reverence. When I am true to my faith, they begin to doubt me. They all believe that they are more saintly than I am, but they pretend to be sinners for fear of mocking my solitude. They are constantly trying to show me that they consider me a saint, and thus they become transformed into emissaries of the Devil, tempting me with pride.’
 
‘Your problem lies not in trying to be who you are, but in not accepting how other people are. And if you carry on like that, you had best stay in the desert,’ said the gentleman, and with that he left.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

The eternal malcontent

By Paulo Coelho

Shanti was travelling from town to town, preaching the Divine word, when a man came to him hoping that he would cure his ills.
 
‘Work, eat and praise God,’ Shanti told him.
 
‘When I work, my back hurts. When I eat, I get indigestion. When I drink, my throat burns. When I pray, I don’t feel that God is listening to me.’
 
‘Then find another teacher.’
 
The man left in disgust. Shanti remarked to those who had heard the conversation:
 
‘He had two possible ways of looking at things and he always chose the worst one. When he dies, he’ll probably complain about how cold it is in his grave.’

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

True respect

By Paulo Coelho

During the evangelisation of Japan, a missionary was taken prisoner by samurai warriors.

‘If you want to remain alive, tomorrow, in front of everyone, you will trample on the image of Christ,’ said the samurai.

The missionary went to bed with not a doubt in his heart: he would never commit such a sacrilege, and he prepared himself for martyrdom.

He woke in the middle of the night and, when he got out of bed, he tripped over a man asleep on the floor. He almost fell back in astonishment: it was Jesus Christ in person!

‘Now that you have trampled on me, go outside and trample on my image,’ said Jesus. ‘Fighting for an ideal is far more important than making a futile sacrifice.’

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

A death foretold

By Paulo Coelho

In the mid 1970s, when he was about to complete his doctorate in physics, the scientist Stephen Hawking – who was already carrying the disease that would gradually paralyse all his movements – heard a doctor say of him that he had only two more years to live.
 
‘Right then,’ he thought to himself. ‘now that I don’t need to worry about things like pensions or paying the bills, I can concentrate on trying to understand the Universe.’
 
Since the disease was progressing rapidly, he was forced to come up with ways of explaining his ideas as simply and as briefly as possible.
 
Two and a half years went by, twenty years went by, and Hawking is still alive. He can communicate his highly abstract ideas through a tiny computer hooked up to his wheelchair and which has a vocabulary of only 500 words. He wrote his classic A Brief History of Time and was responsible for creating an entirely new vision of modern physics.
 
Rather than leading him into a life of complete disability, the illness forced him to discover a new way of thinking.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

I am part of the land

By Paulo Coelho

The wars between the conquerors of the American West and the Indians grew ever more violent. Shortly before he died, the father of Chief Joseph (1840-1904) called him to his side.
 
‘My son, my body will soon return to Mother Earth,’ he said. ‘When I leave, this land is your inheritance. I am not leaving money or wealth, and the power you receive from me is not a motive for pride, but a responsibility. I leave in your hands our people and the ground that you walk on; I hope you will prove worthy of the task. Soon the white men will have us completely surrounded and they will try to buy our Mother. Remember that my body lies there and that I am part of Her.’
 
Joseph took his father’s hand, pressed it to his breast and promised never to sell the land.
 
The white men tried to buy the land, and the chief refused to sell. The conflict grew ever bloodier, and Joseph led his army into battle against the American soldiers. When he was captured, he was asked why he was fighting to defend a lost cause.
 
‘A man does not sell his father’s bones,’ he said.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

After death

By Paulo Coelho

The emperor summoned the Zen master Gudo to his presence.
 
‘Gudo, I have heard it said that you are a man who understands everything,’ said the emperor. ‘I would like to know what happens to both the enlightened man and the sinner when they die?’
 
‘How should I know?’ asked Gudo.
 
‘Well, you’re an enlightened teacher, aren’t you?’
 
‘Yes, but I’m not a dead teacher!’

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Just passing through

By Paulo Coelho

An American tourist went to Cairo to visit the famous Polish rabbi Hafez Ayim. The tourist was surprised to see that the rabbi lived in a simple, book-lined room, in which the only pieces of furniture were a table and a bench.
 
‘Rabbi, where’s all your furniture?’ asked the tourist.
 
‘Why, where’s yours?’ retorted Hafez.
 
‘Mine? But I’m just passing through.’
 
‘So am I,’ said the rabbi.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Wings and roots

By Paulo Coelho

‘Blessed is he who gives his children wings and roots,’ says a proverb.

We need roots. There is a place in the world where we are born, where we learn a language, where we discover how our ancestors overcame their problems. At a given point, we become responsible for that place.

We need wings. They show us the endless horizons of the imagination, they carry us towards our dreams, they lead us to distant places. They are the wings that allow us to know the roots of our fellow human beings and to learn from them.

Blessed is he who has wings and roots, and wretched is he who only has one of the two.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

A saint in the wrong place

By Paulo Coelho

‘Why is it that some people can resolve the most complicated problems really easily, whilst others agonise over every tiny crisis and end up drowning in a glass of water?’ I asked.
 
Ramesh replied by telling the following story:
 
‘Once upon a time, there was a man who had been the soul of kindness all his life. When he died, everyone assumed that he would go straight to Heaven, for the only possible place for a good man like him was Paradise. The man wasn’t particularly bothered about going to Heaven, but that was where he went.
 
Now in those days, service in heaven was not all that it might be. The reception desk was extremely inefficient, and the girl who received him gave only a cursory glance through the index cards before her and when she couldn’t find the man’s name, she sent him straight to Hell.
 
And in Hell no one asks to check your badge or your invitation, for anyone who turns up is invited in. The man entered and stayed…
 
Some days later, Lucifer stormed up to the gates of Heaven to demand an explanation from St Peter.
 
"What you’re doing is pure terrorism!" he said.
 
St Peter asked why Lucifer was so angry, and an enraged Lucifer replied:
 
"You sent that man down into Hell, and he’s completely undermining me! Right from the start, there he was listening to people, looking them in the eye, talking to them. And now everyone’s sharing their feelings and hugging and kissing. That’s not the sort of thing I want in Hell! Please, let him into Heaven!’
 
When Ramesh had finished telling the story, he looked at me fondly and said:
 
‘Live your life with so much love in your heart that if, by mistake, you were sent to Hell, the Devil himself would deliver you up to Paradise.’

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Who is the teacher?

By Paulo Coelho

A disciple asked Nasrudin:

‘How did you become a spiritual teacher?’

‘We all know what we should do with our lives, but we always reject it,’ replied Nasrudin. ‘In order to understand that truth, I had to go through a rather strange experience.

One day, I was sitting by the roadside wondering what to do, when a man came over and stood in front of me. To get rid of him, I made a gesture, and he copied me. That amused me, so I made another gesture, which he again imitated, but this time adding another.

Then we started to sing and to do all kinds of exercises. I felt better and better and I came to really love my new companion. A few weeks passed and one day I asked him:

‘Tell me, Teacher, what should I do next?’

And the man replied: ‘But I thought you were the teacher!’

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

The problem tree

By Paulo Coelho

The carpenter finished another day’s work. As it was the weekend, he decided to invite a friend to come back home with him for a drink.
 
When he got to his house and before they went in, the carpenter stood for a few moments in silence before a tree growing in his garden. Then he touched its branches with both hands.
 
The expression on his face changed completely. He went into the house, smiling; he was greeted by his wife and children; he told them stories; and then he went out onto the verandah with his friend for a drink.
 
They could see the tree from there. Curiosity got the better of his friend and he asked the carpenter to explain his earlier behaviour.
 
‘Oh, that’s my problem tree,’ said the carpenter. ‘I know that I’m bound to have problems at work, but those problems are mine, not my wife’s or my children’s. So, when I get home, I hang all my problems on that tree. The next day, before leaving for work, I pick them up again. The oddest thing is, though, that when I come out in the morning to get them, some of them have gone, while others seem much heavier than they were the previous night.’

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

The largest stones

By Paulo Coelho

The teacher placed a large glass jar on the table.
 
Then out of a bag he took ten stones, each the size of an orange, and began placing them, one by one, in the jar.
 
When the jar was filled to the brim with stones, he asked his students:
 
‘Is it full?’
 
They all agreed that it was. The teacher, however, took some gravel from another bag and by jiggling the large stones around inside the jar, managed to fit in quite a lot of gravel.
 
‘Is it full now?’
 
The students said, yes, this time it was definitely full. At that point, the teacher opened a third bag, this time full of fine sand, and he began to pour it into the jar. The sand filled up any empty spaces between the large stones and the gravel, right up to the top.
 
‘Right,’ said the teacher. ‘Now the jar is full. What do you think I’ve been trying to demonstrate to you?’
 
‘That it doesn’t matter how busy you are, there’s always room to fit in something else,’ said one student.
 
‘Not at all. What this little demonstration shows us is that we have to put the large stones in first because, afterwards, they won’t fit.
 
Now what are the important things in our lives? What are the plans we postpone, the adventures we never have, the loves we fail to fight for? Ask which are the large, solid stones that keep God’s flame alive in you and put them into your jar of decisions now, because very soon there will be no room for them.’

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

The right stone

By Paulo Coelho

A man once heard tell that, in a nearby desert, a certain alchemist had lost the result of years of work: the famous philosopher’s stone, which could transform into gold any metal that it touched.
 
Driven by the desire to find it and to become rich, the man went to that desert. Since he did not know quite what the philosopher’s stone looked like, he began picking up every stone he came across; he would then hold it to his belt buckle to see what happened.
 
A year passed, and then another, and still nothing. The man, however, clung obstinately to his desire to find the magical stone. Mechanically, he walked every valley and mountain in the desert, rubbing one pebble after another against his belt buckle.
 
One night, just before going to sleep, he noticed that his buckle had been changed into gold!
 
But which stone had it been? Had the miracle occurred during the morning or the evening? How long had it been, in fact, since he had bothered to check the results of all his efforts? What had started out as a search with a clear objective had become a mechanical, joyless exercise with no real goal. What had started out as an adventure had become dull duty.
 
Now he had no way of finding the right stone, because his belt buckle was already gold and no other transformation could possibly take place. He had followed the right road, but had failed to notice the miracle awaiting him.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Encounter in Posto Seis

By Paulo Coelho

Father José Roberto from the Church of the Resurrection in Rio de Janeiro, was setting off early one morning when his car was stopped by three adolescents.
 
‘We’ve been up all night, Father,’ said one of them defiantly. ‘Guess where we’ve been.’
 
Like any other normal human being, José Roberto chose to say nothing. He could imagine what being up all night at their age was likely to involve and he shuddered at the risks the boys must have taken and thought how worried their parents would be.
 
The boy who had initiated the conversation finally answered his own question.
 
‘We were at the Church of Our Lady in Copacabana, praying to the Virgin. We left there on such a high that we walked all the way here [about 3 kilometres], singing, laughing and talking to everyone we met. At least one person said to us: “Aren’t you ashamed, boys of your age being drunk at this hour in the morning?”.’
 
Father José Roberto started his car and set off for his appointment. On the way, he said to himself over and over: ‘I let myself be taken in by appearances and I committed an injustice in my heart. When will we ever fully understand Jesus’ words: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged, and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured unto you”.’

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Encounter on 5th Avenue

By Paulo Coelho

I was just leaving St Patrick’s Church in New York when a young Brazilian came over to me.
 
‘It’s great to see you,’ he said, smiling. ‘There’s something I wanted to tell you.’
 
I was equally pleased at this encounter with a stranger. I invited him for a coffee, told him about my awful trip to Denver, and suggested that he go to Harlem on Sunday to attend a religious service there.
 
The young man, who was in his twenties, listened to me without saying a word.
 
I talked on. I said that I had just read a novel about a terrorist group that launches an attack on St Patrick’s Church, and that the author had described the scene in such detail that I had noticed many things I had never seen on previous visits. That was why I had decided to go to the church that morning.
 
We spent nearly an hour together, drank two coffees, and I dominated the entire conversation. Afterwards, we said goodbye, and I wished him a good trip.
 
‘Thanks,’ he said, moving off.
 
That was when I noticed the sad look in his eyes; something was wrong and I didn’t know what. Only after walking a few blocks did I realise what it was: the young man had come over to me saying that there was something he needed to talk to me about.
 
During the whole time we spent together, I had been in control of the situation. At no point had I asked him what he wanted to tell me; in my desire to be friendly, I had filled up all the spaces, I hadn’t allowed one moment of silence when the young man could have transformed a monologue into a dialogue.
 
He may have had something really important to share with me. Perhaps if I had been truly open to life at that moment, I too would have had something to give to him. Perhaps both my life and his would have changed radically after that encounter. I will never know and I am not going to torture myself with the fact that I failed to take advantage of a potentially magical moment: mistakes happen.
 
But ever since then, I have tried to keep alive in my memory that farewell scene and the sad look in the boy’s eyes. I was incapable of receiving what was destined for me and so was equally incapable of giving what I wanted to give, however hard I tried.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet